15-yr old teen moving to Germany

Hi all,

I'm a father living in Berlin for 5 years now (non-EU citizen with a residency permit). 

I have a teenage kid who has been living abroad with her mother, but he has serious attitude problems and he's driving her crazy. 

Her mother and I decided he's gonna come to Germany and finish his studies here. Of course he doesn't speak the language.

I don't even have a proper place for him to stay at Berlin, and the situation here as anyone living in Berlin will know, it's terrible in terms of finding an apt within reasonable price.

I've been trying to find any  full-time education options in Berlin or around, ideally public but I don't mind paying for a private school. What's important is that he can learn the language, complete high-school studies and live in the campus for the entirety of the studies or at least until I can move to a proper place.

Any help or advice would be appreciated.
Hi all,

I'm a father living in Berlin for 5 years now (non-EU citizen with a residency permit). 

I have a teenage kid who has been living abroad with her mother, but he has serious attitude problems and he's driving her crazy. 

Her mother and I decided he's gonna come to Germany and finish his studies here. Of course he doesn't speak the language.

I don't even have a proper place for him to stay at Berlin, and the situation here as anyone living in Berlin will know, it's terrible in terms of finding an apt within reasonable price.

I've been trying to find any  full-time education options in Berlin or around, ideally public but I don't mind paying for a private school. What's important is that he can learn the language, complete high-school studies and live in the campus for the entirety of the studies or at least until I can move to a proper place.

Any help or advice would be appreciated.
- @riffonio

Boarding schools do exist in Germany, they are called an Internat and I think nearly all are private. I have no personal knowledge of such schools in the Berlin area but Google is your friend. But like any school, they will be obliged to integrate him. But its a big difference if it is a English instructed (assuming English is even his first language) one or like most, instructing primarily in German. If instruction is primarily in German then its possible he will lose a year academically while they focus on getting his language skills up to par.

But it doesn't fit that one complains about the affordability of apartments but seems to indicate that paying for such a school is not a problem. Public school are tuition free. Private international schools tend to cost 12 - 15 thousand Euros/year tuition and fees and then one would have room and board in addition. Surely one can find an apartment with an additional room for less than an extra 1000 euros/month! I think you might be underestimating the potential cost of private schools.

And I question the idea of a kid with discipline problems necessarily doing well by being put in a boarding school in a new country where they don't even speak the language. I think adapting to such a thing is hard enough for kids who do speak the local language.
I agree to Tom's assessment above:

Taking a difficult teenage kid out of his/her usual environment and into a foreign one, where he/she knows nobody, doesn't speak the language and is disadvantaged in every respect, will NOT solve the problems. It is likely to make them worse!

Going through puberty is difficult for both kid and parents (I am having that at home too right now!). If you or the mother cannot cope, seek professional help instead!
@riffonio

Which language(s) does your child speak?

There are three state boarding schools in Berlin. Two are elite sports schools for potential professional athletes (one for ballet and acrobatics, one for soccer, winter sports, fencing, etc.) the third is a high ability high school and as far as I know they don´t often take pupils who would join halfway through high school. Also, one has to have had certain subjects in primary school to even be considered at 7th grade (first foreign language English, second foreign language French, etc.)

There are a couple of private boarding schools which cost around 1500 to 2000 € per month.

The BBIS (Berlin Brandenburg International School) is the only one with English as the language of instruction. It`s pricey - tuition fees for high school are between 16 and 20k per year (under certain circumstances, you can apply for a reduction according to your income) plus 21300 € for boarding. Not to mention book fees, trips, deposits, registration fees, mandatory material, etc.

I think you can find an excellent apartment for that kind of money, and fast!

Here is a list:


There is also one in Nauen near Berlin and one in Potsdam. I expect their fees are similar.
ALKB is correct about state boarding schools for special purposes like training elite athletes. I used to do Taekwondo and had contact to the TKD group run by the national trainer at the boarding school in Friedrichshafen by Bodensee.

I didn't think to even mention this because it doesn't sound like an option for the given situation. Nothing was mentioned about being a star athlete or prodigy. This leaves the private schools which ALKB basically confirms as being very expensive. 
ALKB is correct about state boarding schools for special purposes like training elite athletes. I used to do Taekwondo and had contact to the TKD group run by the national trainer at the boarding school in Friedrichshafen by Bodensee.

I didn't think to even mention this because it doesn't sound like an option for the given situation. Nothing was mentioned about being a star athlete or prodigy. This leaves the private schools which ALKB basically confirms as being very expensive. 
- @TominStuttgart


The third state boarding school is a normal Gymnasium (Schulfarm Scharfenberg). With boarding acilities. On an island in a Berlin lake. No tuition fees but boarding still costs 450-500 Euro per month, as far as I know.

My half-sister actually went to boarding school there in the 1970s when it was still very much experimental (teaching the kids agriculture including how to operate a tractor, art classes with now famous, then unerestimated artists) and a lot less prestigious than now.

Her mother had indeed sent her there because of `behavioral issues` aka not getting along well with her new step dad.
The Schafenberger Internat mentioned by ALKB is interesting. It has about 500 kids including ones that board there, is over 90 years old and is based on the pedagogic system of Wilhelm Blume (who I personally have never heard of). 

I looked at their website (link below, German only) but find no mention of fees. They write that they have a criteria of accepting pupils with outstanding credentials in German, English, math plus one of the following: art, music, sport or natural sciences.


For someone coming from outside of Germany they MUST be a citizen of an EU country, have attended a school with German language instruction and have at least a B1 level of German. Thus it doesn't sound like it will fit to the OP's situation.


https://insel-scharfenberg.de/schulfarm … wechsel-2/

The Schafenberger Internat mentioned by ALKB is interesting. It has about 500 kids including ones that board there, is over 90 years old and is based on the pedagogic system of Wilhelm Blume (who I personally have never heard of). 

I looked at their website (link below, German only) but find no mention of fees. They write that they have a criteria of accepting pupils with outstanding credentials in German, English, math plus one of the following: art, music, sport or natural sciences.


For someone coming from outside of Germany they MUST be a citizen of an EU country, have attended a school with German language instruction and have at least a B1 level of German. Thus it doesn't sound like it will fit to the OP's situation.


https://insel-scharfenberg.de/schulfarm … wechsel-2/

- @TominStuttgart


Yes, I don´t really think that a German boarding school  is the answer to OP´s situation. There are some private ones that specifically cater to rich non-EU families that want their children to learn German and obtain an Abitur (not in the Berlin region, though) but the cost would be considerable and a lwhole ot more than the difference between a one bedroom or two bedroom apartment.

There are a couple of church-run boarding school in the south of Germany that used to cost less, at least when my parents looked into that for me some 25 years ago. It looked like my father was going to be sent to India for a year or two by his employer at a time that was quite crucial for my schooling, so I spent two weeks in Baden-Württemberg, trying out boarding school life in a catholic school without being catholic. I was quite glad that India didn´t work out for my father  after all, because the culture shock for me was rather profound.

Here is the page with the boarding fees for Scharfenberg. A great school but not a realistic possibility for OP:


Thank you all for the responses, and sorry for not replying in a while – I finally fell victim of Covid 🥴



Rent prices in Berlin are insanely expensive right now, and for some reason I thought an Internat could be an option to explore – but it seems I was wrong. Totally agree that for that price I could rent a bigger flat and send him to a public school.




My kid doesn't speak the language (he speaks Spanish natively, Italian fluidly, and some English), but by looking at https://www.berlin.de/sen/bjf/en/europe … in-school, I think he could go to one of these  public schools instructed in German-Spanish or German-Italian.



To the ones sharing their opinions whether it's a good idea for the child or not, my kid is a 15yr-old who has been given everything he wanted or needed his all young life (his mother, his grandparents and I am to blame, of course) and now he is such ungrateful and disrespectful, especially of his mother, a single mom trying to raise 2 kids in Argentina while keeping her job. He thinks that I came here and am having the great life in the first world, and I and everyone else are rich because this is Germany. He complains and is shameful that he lives a "poor life" with his mother (for Argentina standards, he's a privileged white little kid really).



So better sooner than later that we break him out of the little bubble and he starts looking at the real world.


@riffonio


I sympathize with your situation, and I can imagine there is no easy solution.

But taking dramatic action now to "break him out of the little bubble" seems a bit heavy-handed, and very risky in terms of its potential impact on his education.

It's not like he's 10 or 11, and just starting his secondary education. He's 15 and already towards the end of it (his bachilerato maybe?). In the UK, at 15 (long ago, I admit), I was preparing to take my O Level exams. If, instead, I'd been hoiked off to a new school, in a new country, and needing to learn a new language... I can imagine that I would not have enjoyed it. And certainly I can't imagine that it would have improved either my behaviour or my academic results. I personally would have interpreted it as more like a punishment than a reward, that's for sure!

At my school (private school in Bulgaria) I've seen expat kids come in at 13 or 14 or 15 and really struggle. Of course, I've also seen a couple of really smart, focused ones who made the transition pretty effortlessly.

But we're not experts. Perhaps you should discuss it with someone appropriate within the German educational system who can give you professional advice in this context?

Or, as you can afford a private school, how about considering a boarding school in Argentina? This would be less disruptive in terms of language/educational system, and would get him out of the house so your wife has a bit of breathing space.

Plus, I know we all say that teenagers are kinda nuts, but at my school most 15 year olds are capable of a fairly rational conversation about their upcoming choices: A (move to Germany), B (go to Argentina boarding school), and C (start being nicer to your mother). :-)


My kid doesn't speak the language (he speaks Spanish natively, Italian fluidly, and some English), but by looking at https://www.berlin.de/sen/bjf/en/europe … in-school, I think he could go to one of these  public schools instructed in German-Spanish or German-Italian.





The German-Spanish school only recently opened and I think they may not have a class for a 15-year old at this point, but do contact them by email, they are very helpful. I had contact with them last year for a family from Spain.

Generally, the bilingual Europa schools are very good, have fewer pupils per classroom and receive extra funding that regular state schools don`t get. A friend of mine lived in Berlin for a year only and had her son at the German-Italian primary school. She said he grew in leaps and bounds both academically and personally.
In my experience (only with English-German), bilingual schools here are not geared for foreign kids integrating easier (there are special classes at regular schools for that purpose - look for "Förderklasse"), but for German kids learning more of the foreign language.
They start with few, unimportant subjects taught in English - plus additional classes for learning the language - and work their way up to about half of all classes taught in English in later years.
This might not be what you need. But then again, some bilingual schools in Berlin might be different, since it's the most cosmopolitan city in Germany.
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